The bergamot aromatic fruit has been associated almost uniquely with Calabria since 1400. How they first arrived in the region is open to interpretation.
Some suggest it was thanks to traders from Berga in Spain or Pergamo in Turkey or even the purchase of a sapling from a Moor in medieval times.
Even Christopher Columbus name crops up. What is certain is that the fruit has been grown for its essence since the very beginning.
The skin of the bergamot was rubbed with huge sponges which were then squeezed.
Today, the process is mechanised but the annual production still falls short of the demand world-wide. Other uses include an infusion of tea and in sweets and biscuits.
To see the fruit growing on the trees head to the southern end of the province of Reggio Calabria. They grow mainly along the coast road between Villa San Giovanni and Roccella Jonica.
They are, however, not for eating. They are grown almost uniquely for their essence, from Body Shop products to the finest perfumes.
Official website of the Consorzio del Bergamotto Reggio Calabria